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REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 



REMINISCENCES 

of 

BERT DRAGE 



Printed and Published by 
DAVID GREEN, KETTERING, NORTHANTS. 

1955 



COPYRIGHT RESERVED 



V-zV^X^ X J^il A kJ. 


page 


Foreword 


9 


Chapter I. My Family 


11 


II. Horse Dealing 


22 


III. Hunting Days 


44 


IV. Bloodstock and Racing . 


60 


V. Steeplechasing without 




Tears 


68 


Index 


78 


ILLUSTRATIONS. 






faces 




PAGE 


Bert Drage 


10 


Earl Spencer 


12 


William Drage 


14 


Polo Group 


16 


Mary Drage 


20 


Sam Adams 


26 


John Drage receiving Cup 


28 


Capt. Loewenstein 


32 


Hunting Group 


36 


Harry Gale 


42 


Bert Drage, 1931 


48 


Hunting Group 


58 


Lord Mildmay and Davey Jones 


70 


Miss Carter 


74 


Bert Drage and Sam Adams 


76 



FOREWORD. 

Sir Alfred Munnings in his Autobiography 
published in October, 1952, writes :— " Monday, 
14th June, 1937. After lunch motored to Chapel 

Brampton to the famous Bert Drage 

saw his yearlings in some fine pastures 

saw some of his hunters. A very interesting old 
fellow and young and youthful for his age." ! ! 

When you have read these reminiscences you 
will, I am sure, understand how Munnings felt. 
Bert Drage is no different today except 18 years 
have rolled on but he does not change. Oct. 1955 




THE AUTHOR, 1955, AGED 



Chapter I. 
MY FAMILY. 

I HAVE had a grand life — more hunting than any 
man Hving, I should think. I am writing this in 
bed (January, 1953). I had a fall about a month 
ago and fractured my thigh. I hope to get home 
in about two weeks. I have broken so many bones, 
but never my thigh before. I have broken my legs 
six times, collar-bone twice, ribs, both arms and 
pelvis, and cracked my shoulder blade. The 
broken pelvis was the worst. 

I suppose I ought to give up jumping fences now, 
as I have lost my grip and probably I never ought 
to have come off. It was down-hill and a blind 
ditch on the take-off side. It unfortunately 
happened a long way from the road, and they had 
to carry me across some very rough fields and then 
put me down on the road-side to wait for the 
ambulance, and it was raining hard. Not very 
pleasant, but I was very fortunate in getting it set 
right away by a very, very good surgeon, and he 
tells me that I shall be quite sound. 

I think I ought to be very thankful for the way I 
shall finish my life. I have got a farm of about 
350 acres, and I take a great interest in it and I 
don't let it worry me. I am out every morning at 
seven o'clock and I often have nine holes at golf 



11 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

in the week. At Chapel Brampton I very often 
play with Phil. Cripps, a great sportsman. Of 
course he gives me a great number of strokes. I 
ride every day and get a few days' racing. I don't 
expect to make much money farming, but it gives 
me an interest in life. My farming adviser, Mr. 
Messinger, really does all that is important to be 
done. I am undecided whether to give up hunting 
— I know what I ought to do, and that is just to go 
out on the pony and ride quietly about and see my 
friends and so get the exercise ; but can I do it ? 
I loved popping along and trying to keep near 
hounds — I shall see if I can be sensible and do what 
I feel is best for me. You see I don't want to 
become a cripple. 

I was born at Hannington in Northamptonshire. 
My father had a farm there and also a lot of grazing 
land at Faxton and Mawsley. I had two brothers 
and two sisters. I was the second son, and I was 
born in October, 1867. My older brother, Francis 
Benyon, was about one year older, and my other 
brother, John, about two years younger. My 
sister, Mary, was about three years younger, and 
my sister, Nelly, about thirteen years younger. 

We left our farm at Hannington in about 1880, 
and my father took a farm at Chapel Brampton, 
about four miles from Northampton. It was on 
the estate of Earl Spencer and had been occupied 
by my mother's brother, John Woods, who had 
an auctioneer's business in Northampton. Earl 
Spencer was a good landlord and a friend to all 

12 




THE LATE EARL SPENCER 



MY FAMILY 

his tenants. It was about 400 acres. Not a good farm, 
chiefly arable. My father had one brother, John 
Drage, who Uved at a farm about one mile from 
Holcot. He had one son and two daughters. The 
son, William, was fatally injured by a fall hunting. 
He was a very fine rider. He never got a bad fall un- 
til about two years before the fatal one. Then, in 
those two years, he had a bad fall near Market 
Harborough and the following year he got very 
badly hurt in jumping some high rails not far from 
Cottesbrooke. 

I saw it happen, but when he did not get up I 
got someone to hold my horse and went to him. 
I could see he was in a very bad way and I felt it 
was only a matter of minutes before the end, but 
as he still held on I got someone to get a conveyance 
and I got in it with him expecting the end would 
come before we got him home. But it was not to 
be so, and we got him to his home. I used to sit 
up with him through the night for about a fort- 
night. He was quite unconscious, but one morning 
before leaving I was talking to the nurse and we 
saw him just move an eyelid and he gradually, by 
very slow degrees, recovered. But it left him in a 
poor way and for a long time he had difficulty in 
walking, but by degrees he got so that he could ride 
a quiet old pony and then he started to go out 
hunting in a quiet way. One day he was tempted 
to jump a little fence, but there was sheep netting 
at the back of it and this gave him a terrible fall 



13 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

from which he never recovered. He was taken 
home, but he died in about a week. 

All my relations had been fond of horses and 
hunting. When we came to live at Brampton my 
brother John and myself used to ride into North- 
ampton Grammar School. My brother Frank 
went to the Wellingborough Grammar School. 
Later on he left, and John and I went to the same 
school. I was very happy there and very proud 
to get into the football team. We played soccer, 
and I remember I played inside forward. I really 
was not much good, but the man on the outside 
left was very good and he made use of me when he 
was in difficulties. I was very keen on the game. 
I think John left a little before I did. 

My father financed the auctioneer business built 
up by my Uncle John Woods who died, and his 
son, Cecil Woods, then carried on with the 
business. When my brother John left school my 
father put him into the business, but he did not 
like it and so remained on my father's farm. When 
I left school I was put into the auctioneer business 
that my brother John had given up. I kept on for 
about a year and then I gave it up and stayed at 
home to help on my father's farm. 

When my father died very suddenly in 1902, I 
found we had got over 1,000 acres of land to con- 
tend with. I was very fortunate in getting different 
people to take over all the outlying portions, and 
then I felt I would try to find someone to manage 

14 




WILLIAM DRAGE of HOLCOT 



MY FAMILY 

the 700 acres remaining. Failing this, I felt the 
best thing to do would be to keep only the 350 
acres of the home farm on which we carried on our 
horse dealing, and which I felt we could manage 
without it taking too much time from our business — 
which really was the most important, and which 
we had gradually built up. 

I knew there was a man named Messenger who 
was helping a farmer living not far from us, and I 
knew he came of a respected family and I thought 
he would be just the man we wanted if he would 
care to take it on. I had never actually met him, 
but I got in touch with him and he came to see me 
and we went all round the farm. I said : " Well, 
there it is — I don't expect you to make a lot of 
money, but do you think you could take it on and 
make us a reasonable profit ? My father has 
always done so and there is money to carry it on." 
I remember I rather liked his reply. He said : 
" All right. If you like to take me I will do my 
best for you." And so we came to terms and he 
was with us for about 20 years when he got killed 
in crossing the railway. His brother, Richard, 
was at that time farming at Holdenby, and he 
carried on for us in his place, and still continues 
to-day. We were very lucky to have such 
practical and capable and honest men to look after 
out farming interests. 

As I have related, I had two brothers. My 
older brother was so different to John or myself. 



15 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

He had no idea of the value of money spent freely. 
He went to the vet. college and very soon qualified. 
Then he was taken on as assistant Veterinary Surg- 
eon at Windsor, but soon left and joined as V.S. to 
the 10th in Ireland. I forget how long he was with 
them, but not very long, I think. He left and came 
back to join The Blues in London, and I believe he 
was with them about 20 years. They were all very 
keen on hunting and polo. My brother was a good 
rider, but not so desperately keen about hunting. 
I think he played polo for the regiment. 

I remember having a match with The Blues at 
Rugby. We played on the handicap. I think 
their side was Colonel Harrison, Geoffrey Bowlby, 
Lord Alastair Innes Ker and Lord Algernon 
Gordon Lennox. Our side was we three brothers 
and Dick Farmer. At about half-time we were 
well ahead, and they complained of the handicap, 
so I said : " All right, we will finish the match 
playing level." We won. L think we each had 
£5 on with the opposing player. I always felt 
I was quite a help to our side as I think my handicap 
was only about three, and I felt I could do such 
good work by interferring with the opposing back. 
John was a very good sound player. 

My polo came to a sudden end in 1928. I was 
playing at Rugby and I had a fall and was knocked 
out. They took me to the Rugby hospital, but I 
understood they would not take me in as I 
apparently seemed all right. Anyhow, they sent me 



16 




u 



MY FAMILY 

home and I had to go to bed for several days. I have 
several times been concussed. Once out hunting 
with the Cottesmore. They v^^ent away on the far 
side of Ouston Wood, and going down the first 
field my horse put his foot in a hole, and when I 
came round I found I was in a bed at Somerby. 

My eldest brother, Frank, had two sons and a 
daughter. The eldest son was a fine fellow. Very 
good looking, a good rider and polo player, but he 
had an incurable disease and died when he was 
about 38. He married a daughter of Mr. Hames of 
Somerby. They have a daughter Elizabeth and now 
live at Ashwell. My brother's second son was 
killed in a motor accident in America. The 
daughter Betty was a charming girl. She married 
a very nice fellow from Kansas City. Betty used 
often to come and stay with us, and the husband 
would come over too. He was very keen on 
fiying, and would hire a plane over here and fly 
about. 

The first time I went up I had been playing polo 
at Rugby and he flew me home. I think I must 
have been very frightened, as I never went up again. 
I was to have flown home once from Biarritz, but 
I really was glad when the pilot refused to go up 
as the visibility was bad. 

To return to my niece and her husband. She, 
as I said, stayed a good deal with us, but after her 
last visit she returned to America and her husband 
met her in New York to fly home to Kansas City. 



17 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

Cut the plane caught a high tension wire and they 
were both killed, so the whole family were wiped 
out except the mother who still lives in America. 
She comes over to stay with us about once a year. 
She is an exceptionally nice woman. 

My brother John Drage married Nellie Argyle 
from Staffordshire about 1900 and was very happily 
married. They had three daughters, Violet, Maie 
and Susan. Maie and Susan followed hounds and 
in their childhood often rode green horses straight 
from the train from Ireland and became very keen 
on hunting and went well. They are all married 
and their children, who are now growing up, can be 
seen out with the Pytchley Hounds. Violet, 
during the last war, took over the management of 
her husband's farms at Moulton and made a very 
good job of it, and has enjoyed it so much that she 
has kept an interest in agriculture ever since and 
is a good judge of cattle. Susan worked for the 
W.V.S., during the war and became County 
Organiser with her sister Maie helping her. She did 
a wonderful job feeding the agricultural workers 
in the rural areas of the county as the W.V.S. 
representative and received grateful thanks from 
all the local authorities, Ministry of Food and 
Agricultural Executive Committee at the end of war. 
She even managed to show a financial surplus and, 
a committee was formed and the money 
used to purchase and endow a home 
for old people in Northamptonshire. This home 



18 



MY FAMILY 

was Blessed by the Bishop of Peterborough and 
opened by the Duchess of Gloucester and is 
flourishing today. These three nieces have pro- 
duced between them four boys and three girls and I 
must say that Alison, Belinda and Georgina do not 
disappoint me, either in looks or riding. 

My brother John died September, 1950. I am 
afraid the last few years of his life had not brought 
him much happiness. He was so crippled with 
arthritis, and during the last year his eyesight 
failed him. I miss him very much. You see we 
started life together and did everything together — 
business, hunting, polo and golf, and we never had 
any serious quarrel. He bore his troubles with 
great courage and patience, and no one ever heard 
him complain. I think I am the only one of the 
family left. John was a fine horseman and no one 
could ride or show championship horses better. 
He also was very fond of golf. 

In 1919, after the war, I remember I said to him 
that, as he and Dick Farmer were both married 
and therefore had more expenses than I had, if 
they liked I would hand my share of the business 
over to them, and I was prepared to give my whole 
time and attention to the business on the under- 
standing that I lived free of all expenses at the 
Grange. I hoped and thought that by doing this 
they would take the business more seriously, and 
that with my free help that they would do well. 
I found myself working just as hard as ever. You 



19 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

see I never had any desire for great wealth. I had 
made and saved all the money I wanted. In 
making this change I felt it would relieve me of a 
lot of the responsibility, and that it would sort of 
buck them up, but I found I had made a mistake. 
You see the success of the business was, and had 
been for 50 years, my chief ambition. 

I made a big financial mistake once. My brother 
Frank, through his wife's relations, owned a fair- 
sized coalfield not far from Kansas City. Money 
was needed to develop it, and my brother finally 
persuaded me, much against my will, to let him 
have a very considerable sum of money. I think 
it was about ;£ 10,000. I told him I thought it was 
very foolish and that I would promise to help him 
with a sufficient income to enable him to live 
comfortably, but if he had this money that he asked 
for to work the coalfield I should feel I had done 
all he could expect of me. They built some 
miners' cottages and got it working, but it ended in 
a failure. I have been very lucky in recent years, 
as my niece married Sir Hardman Earle, a stock- 
broker whose sound advice has done me very 
well. 

My dear old mother died about 18 years ago. 
I was terribly cut up. She was beloved by every- 
one. My sister saw what trouble I was in, and 
after the funeral took me back with her to London 
for a week. 

I attend church every Sunday morning. I am, 



20 




MARY DRAGE, MY MOTHER 



MY FAMILY 

and have been churchwarden for a good many 
years. 



21 



Chapter II. 
HORSE-DEALING. 

As a young man, I was very keen on hunting and 
was very upset when my father told us that we 
could not hunt on the opening day. I had so 
looked forward to it. As a result of this I decided 
to leave farming with my father. I agreed with 
my brother to try to work up a business in selling 
hunters and thereby get into the hunting field. 

I had somehow saved about £100 and I said if 
we went broke I should try to get a whipper-in job. 
I was determined to hunt. Anyhow, we were 
very lucky. We bought two horses with the ;£100 
and sold them pretty quickly for £300. We went 
to work very carefully and made about £1,000 
the first year. 

My father would not give us any capital, but he 
gave the Bank a guarantee for £1,000. He also 
gave up some of the farm premises which we 
converted into stabling. I worked very hard 
in those days, travelled about to buy horses. I 
would go to Yorkshire on the 6 p.m. train every 
other week. I bought some very good horses 
out of the Sinnington country. I got to know 
Bob Colling, who was a jockey in the North and 
who was very good in going round with me and 
introducing me to a lot of hunting farmers. Then 



22 



HORSE-DEALING 

I was recommended to get in touch with a Mr. 
Arthur Topham who Uved in York. So one 
evening I went to see him. I so well remember 
seeing him sitting in an armchair by the fire. I 
rang the bell, and we had a good talk. I arranged 
to pay all his expenses and to take a house in Dublin 
and give him a good salary if he would go and live 
over there and buy all the good horses he could. 
He agreed. I had found it too hard work and 
very difficult to do from England, and I was 
wanted too much at home. 

I remember one very enjoyable week I had. I 
crossed to Ireland on the Sunday and hunted there 
three days. But I heard the frost was going in 
England so I got back to Dublin on the Wednesday 
night and crossed over to England. I forgot to 
wire my brother that I was coming, so there was 
nothing to meet me at Northampton. I had to 
walk home. I found my brother had arranged to 
take two horses and hunt in Warwickshire, so I 
went with him. We boxed to Daventry and had 
quite a good day, but when we got back to Daventry 
we found our box had been sent away, so we had to 
ride home. It was about 20 miles from where we 
left off. The next day I hunted with the Quorn, 
and with the Cottesmore on the Saturday. A 
pretty strenuous week. 

As things went on, I felt that my brother needed 
some help in our growing business. A young 
friend of mine, Richard Farmer, was living on the 



23 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

adjoining farm helping his uncle. He was a fine 
rider and much liked by everyone, and he agreed 
to join us. I felt that one of us ought to get more 
in touch with people hunting in Leicestershire, 
so I took some stabling just outside John Gaunt 
station. Eventually I bought the stabling together 
with the house. I used to hunt three or four days 
a week there, and the other days with the Pytchley, 
and so got in touch with some very good customers. 
I never stayed at John Gaunt. I used to go down 
each morning by train and back at night. It was 
pretty strenuous work as the horses I had to ride 
there were chiefly horses recently over from 
Ireland, and then I had letters to write and things 
to arrange. So it was after eight o'clock before I 
got to the Red House where I lived, and then I had 
to be up at the Grange early the next morning. 
I was not physically very strong, but I was wiry and 
fit, and I just loved the hunting. I think I liked 
the Cottesmore country the best. I felt I could 
hold my own better in that country than in the 
Quorn or Fernie. 

A great friend of mine. Major Hughes Onslow, 
gave me a very good tip. He said : " Let your 
horse gallop on down the hills, and don't hurry him 
up the hills." It was a hilly country and I found 
his advice was very helpful. 

About that time I felt I should have to make a 
change with our buyer in Ireland, Mr. Topham. 
When I hunted from John Gaunt I came across two 



24 



HORSE-DEALING 

brothers both dealing in hunters in a quiet way. 
They were William and Harry Gale. I felt they 
would not be too pleased to see me open up in their 
country. I felt it might be a friendly and wise 
thing to do if I bought a horse or two from them. 

I felt that Harry Gale was just the man we wanted 
to live in Ireland and buy horses for us. I asked 
him if he would care to come for an outing with 
me to the Dublin Show. I said : " Of course, I 
will pay all expenses." When we got to the show 
I said : " Now, you look round and, if you see a 
horse that you really like, you just buy him without 
trying to consult me, or you may lose him." He 
soon found one and said : " I've bought you a 
horse." Not long afterwards, he came to me and 
told me he had sold him again at a good profit, 
and so I determined to try to arrange with him to 
go and live and be our buyer in Ireland. I can 
honestly say it was the best day's work I ever did. 

It was not a very pleasant job breaking this news 
to Mr. Topham, but I made him a good present 
of a substantial sum and I undertook to put him 
back in York free of all expense to him. I told 
him that, if he liked to act as our agent in the north 
of England, I would give him a good commission 
on all he found for me, but he felt that he would 
rather stay in Ireland and do a little on his own 
account. It ended disastrously for him as I felt 
sure it would, and he eventually came back to me 
and acted as our clerk. 



25 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

I was also very fortunate in my head man — Sam 
Adams. I could not possibly have had anyone 
better. It was funny how I came across him. He 
was working for a butcher in Northampton who had 
a pretty good horse he wanted to sell. He sent 
Sam out on him for me to try with hounds. I 
told Sam not to jump my horse, but just quietly 
to ride him behind and keep him fresh for me to 
ride when I had tried his horse. But I found Sam 
was not doing as I told him, but was joining in the 
hunt, so I pulled back and lectured him, but all I 
could get out of him was : " All right, sir." But 
it had no effect. I bought the horse and I took 
on Sam. 

About that time (1885) we had six or seven 
horses stabled in rough boxes at the field barn. 
Sam did them all himself and lived in the barn. 
I put a cooking stove in and made it as comfortable 
as I could for him. I soon found out that Sam's 
horses were better done than were our 20 best 
horses at home and, against my brother's advice, 
I had Sam away from the barn and put him in 
charge of all our horses in the stables. I realised 
it was a bit risky putting this young man as head of 
all the others, but they soon realised that I meant 
it to be so, and it was a very great success. 

Our horse dealing business grew to be one of 
the biggest hunter and polo businesses. When 



26 



HORSE-DEALING 

the 1914 first world war broke out, we had close 
on 120 horses and polo ponies and were 
owed about ,£90,000. I remember on 

the Sunday I had been, I think, to Weedon. On 
my way back I came across Colonel Alexander, 
who was secretary to the Pytchley Hunt at that 
time, and he said : "I don't know if you are aware 
of it, Bert, but I happen to know that the army 
buyer has orders to come to you directly war is 
declared and to get as many horses as he can find 
in your stables." So, in order to be prepared, I 
had the rugs taken off all the most valuable horses, 
and turned them out. I got in a good many that, 
for various reasons, were not so valuable. I also 
went round the countryside and got together all I 
could from various people. I remember the 
buyer turning up, without any warning, but, very 
fortunately, I was ready for him. 

The buyer was Colonel McKie. No nicer or 
more capable man could they have found. I 
think he took 68 that time, and I so well remember 
that when he had seen 10 or 12 which were sent 
out to him for inspection he suddenly turned to 
me and said : " When are you going to show me 
some of your own, Bert .'* " I hardly knew what 
to say to that. Anyhow, it went off all right, and 
I remember my brother seeming very depressed 
when he saw them go down to the station. I said : 
" I don't feel like that about it, John. Suppose 



27 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

you could have them all back, what on earth could 
we do with them ? " I think we were about 
£3,000 losers over it. 

We had some very good horses left, and sold 
them privately very well. I had a good order to 
find the Cheshire Hunt horses, and then we sent 
a good many to America. 

Dick Farmer, joined up, and John volunteered 
but did not pass and I wrote to the War 
Office offering my services in the various 
horse depots. But they wrote back and said the 
way we could help them best was to collect all the 
suitable horses we could and give the buyer a show 
as often as we could. Of course, it just suited 
us, and we must have sold hundreds of horses and 
cobs and draught horses. 

I set several capable fellows to work to help to 
find them, and I got Gale over from Ireland, too. 
The place was full of horses, and they were tied 
up all round the cattle yards too, and a lot in the 
fields. 

We had visits from various army buyers, and it is 
gratifying to know that we never got censured for 
anything that we sold. Directly we could see that 
the war could not last much longer, we set to work 
to buy again, as I knew what a good demand there 
would be for hunters. 

I took exception to the way two of our customers 
behaved. They wanted to return horses bought 
by them during the summer to hunt in the winter. 
This, I thought, was very unfair to me, as my 

28 



HORSE-DEALING 

business was finished and it was impossible to say 
if it w^ould ever revive. One was Lord Castlereagh, 
and the horse he wanted to send back was a horse 
he had bought for Lady Castlereagh. He said it 
was a very poor performer and no use to Lady 
Castlereagh. He had mounted two or three of 
his friends on the horse, and that was their opinion. 
I did not w^ant to have a row, and suggested that, 
in fairness to me, I should go down and have a day 
with the Cottesmore on him. I went to stay the 
night with Mr. Strawbridge, who was then Master 
of the Cottesmore, so that I should be on the spot 
for the next day. We had a very good hunt. I was 
careful not to take on anything too big at first, 
but when I got him going he carried me brilliantly, 
and I remember Lady Castlereagh coming up to 
me and saying : "I shall never send that horse 
back." So that ended well. 

Then I sold a horse to an American hunting 
in the Duke of Beaufort's country. He wrote to 
me that the horse was no good to him and that 
he wanted to return him. I said before you do this 
I will come dow^n and have a hunt on him. I 
remember I went to stay with the Rev. Jack Gibbs, 
a well-known sporting parson. Again I went very 
carefully to w^ork, and only took on small places. 
But the horse soon regained confidence and 
carried me the best. You see he had not hunted 
in a stone wall country before, and my client had 



29 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

let him refuse. Anyhow, he kept him and Hked 
him very much afterwards. 

I had a rather interesting episode with the late 
Lord Lonsdale. There was only one way to do 
business with him, and that was to let him do just 
what he liked ! It was all a bit difficult, but 
worth doing. I remember once the fox went to 
ground at Exton. I was riding a good grey horse, 
and I felt I should like to try to sell him to Lord 
Lonsdale. He was watching them dig the fox 
out, and I rode up to him and said how very much 
obliged I would be if he would just sit on my 
horse and tell me what weight he was up to, as, 
being a very light-weight, I did not feel quite 
competent to say. He said : " Very well," and got 
on him and rode him for a short time, then said 
he was not up to his weight. I thanked him 
very much, and said all I wanted to know was what 
weight he was up to, so that I should know who to 
recommend him to. Anyhow, that evening I had 
a message from Barley Thorpe telling me to send 
the horse to his stables. He was a great success. 

I also remember having a wonderful hunt with 
the Cottesmore. I was riding a thoroughbred 
horse that we bred. He had not done much 
hunting, so I went very cautiously with him until 
he got confidence. We killed the fox near to 
Burrough, and that night I had a message from 
Barley Thorpe to send the horse to Lord Lonsdale's 
stables there. I told the man to tell Lord Lonsdale 



30 



HORSE-DEALING 

that I would do so if he wished, but that I was 
afraid he would be disappointed with the horse. 
He sent word back that he had watched the horse, 
and that I was to send him. 

I had some very good customers in those days. 
I suppose Mr. Harry Whitney was about the best. 
I had an order from him to find about 30 horses 
for himself and his friends who were coming over 
for a season's hunting. I felt sure price would not 
matter, but I knew he would be very disappointed 
if the horses did not carry him and his friends well. 
None of them had ever hunted in England, and 
they were not very good riders, so I set out to buy 
all the best and well-hunted horses I could find. 
I think they were well satisfied. I remember 
giving ;£500 for one magnificent horse, and when I 
sent in my bill I put him down at ;£500. I did not 
feel I could ask for any profit on him, as he was 
terribly dear but I knew he would carry any of 
them well. 

Mr. Whitney was out on him one day and so was 
the man I bought him off. He went up to Mr. 
Whitney and said : " I see you are on the good 
horse I sold to Drage. I wonder what he charged 
you for him ? " Mr. Whitney said : "I guess 
that is hardly a fair question, but I will tell you 
what I gave if you will tell me what Drage gave 
you." Mr. Whitney told me all this, and it did 
me a lot of good. 

One of the best friends I ever had, and also one 



31 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

of my best customers, was Captain Alfred 
Loewenstein. He bought every horse he had off 
me and paid good prices. He was a rich Belgian 
financier. I got to know him in this way. I bought 
two very good horses at Tattersalls, and someone 
told him of this and so he came down to Brampton 
and bought them. I found for him a very nice 
house and stabling and a small farm at Thorpe 
Satchville on the border of the Quorn and 
Cottesmore about three miles from my stables at 
John Gaunt. He and Major Burnaby, the future 
Master of the Quorn, became great friends. 

Poor Alfred Loewenstein had a sad end. He 
fell out of a plane fiying back to Belgium. This 
happened on a Wednesday. On the previous 
Sunday, he rang me up to say he was quite alone at 
Thorpe Satchville and would be glad if I would go 
and spend the day with him. I found him all 
dressed for riding, lying on his bed. We spent the 
day together riding about, and in the evening I 
left him and he went to dine with Major Burnaby. 
The next day he came to Brampton and spent the 
day with me on his way to London and on the 
Wednesday the tragedy occurred. 

I felt his death very, very much. I liked him so 
much apart from all the advice he gave me 
financially. I remember so well that he said to 
me when riding round that he wondered why he 
went on with his big financial schemes as he at that 
time could have packed up with about £16 millions. 



32 




Capt. LOEWENSTEIN 



HORSE-DEALING 

Of course, after his death all his interests slumped 
to about eight millions. He was very, very kind to 
me, and we became close friends. He had a little 
steeple-chase course made at Thorpe Satchville, 
and we very often used to compete over this. He 
had a very charming wife, and a boy named Bobbie 
— both dead. Bobbie was killed flying. 

We had another pretty good customer in Sir Henri 
Deterding. He was head of Shell Mex. One 
morning in the winter my brother and I were 
having breakfast and there was a tap on the door 
and, on opening it, I saw a short man, not very 
smartly dressed, with leggings round his trousers. 
He wanted to know if I had any hunters to see, 
so I went round with him and showed him two 
or three that I said I wanted £150 and £\20 for. 
Then he asked me if I could not show him some- 
thing better. I suddenly felt this man might be a 
millionaire in disguise, so I asked him if he would 
give me ;£500 for a horse, and he said he should 
like to see him. I suppose the fact of me wanting 
so much made him feel he must be a very good 
horse. Anyhow, he bought him and took him 
to hunt in Kent. He was a very good horse, but 
no earthly use to him. He was a thoroughbred 
horse called Sprinkle Me, and hit his fences rather 
low. 

I soon heard from Sir Henri. He was very angry, 
and said that he had been told that we were a very 
respectable and reliable firm of dealers, etc., etc. 

33 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

I replied that I was very sorry he was disappointed, 
but that I did not know just what he wanted. 
If he would come up again I would do my best to 
fit him out with a horse that should suit him. So 
he came up, and I had a very suitable horse for 
him that I had bought in the Pytchley country — 
short tail black horse, easy to ride and a very good 
jumper. So we changed over, and it made a 
friend and a very good customer for life. He 
had two sons. One of them lives and farms near 
Daventry. 

I remember so well having a talk with Sir Henri, 
and I said I thought he was making a great mistake 
in putting his son to work in London. I told 
him : " When you started. Sir Henri, I suppose 
you had not much money and had to work in the 
city. Now that you are a very rich man, what 
object is there in spoiling your son's life making 
him do something that he is not cut out for .'' " 

The son was very fond of country life and sport, 
and I found him a good farm and a good house. 
I am sure he would tell you he has been very happy 
there. He was keen on race-riding and won quite 
a few steeplechases. He bought a horse from me 
that I think he won two races on in one day at 
Norwich. What with hunting, racing, polo, golf 
and farming, and a charming wife, I am sure he 
has had a very happy life. 

Major Burnaby was a very good customer of 
mine. When he took the Quorn he got me to find 



34 



HORSE-DEALING 

all the horses and fodder, and a good stud groom. 
He was a charming man, and very much liked by 
everyone. He often made us laugh when con- 
trolling the field. I remember one day he called 
out : " Gently, ladies ! please let the good-looking 
ones go on, and the others more quietly." I 
remember, too, him calling out to a Major Johnson : 
" Hold hard ! please, you go so well and get too 
near the hounds, and, naturally, all the ladies try 
to follow you." 

That reminds me of an incident one day when I 
was out with the Oakley. A member of the hunt, 
who rather prided himself on being a hard rider, 
was called to order by the Master, Mr. Esme 
Arkwright. " Hold hard there," he called out. 
** Nothing stops you only a fair sized fence." This, 
before all the field, hurt the rider's feelings very 
much. 

I once had a very lucky deal. I bought a pony 
that I saw in a pony cart going along the road. 
I liked the look of him, and got the owner to 
bring him up to the stables and I had a ride and 
gave him ^£40 for him. He turned out an ex- 
ceptionally good polo pony, and I sold him for 
;f 700 the same year. 

We had a lot of very good customers, among them 
Lord Annaly for himself and the Hunt servants. 
I must mention another of them, Mr. Merthyr 
Guest who had the Blackmore Vale. I found the 
horses for himself and his wife and all the Hunt. 



35 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

It was not easy, as the horses had to be all greys. 
I used to go down and stay with them, and we 
drove a pair of grey horses to the meet. The old 
gentleman nearly always was smoking a short clay 
pipe. I once paid £500 for a horse for him. 

I remember he wired to me to go and buy him 
the best horse I could going up for sale at the 
Leicester repository. I wired back : What was 
the most I was to give ? " "He wired back : 
" Refer to my telegram." So I bought this horse 
sent up by Mr. R. C. Swan. Mr. Swan was very 
annoyed with me. He did not want this particular 
horse to be sold, so he put ;£500 on him as he felt 
sure no one would go to that." 

The late King George VI. was a very good 
customer, and no one could have been more kind 
or considerate. He was not what you would call 
a hard rider, but he was a very good horseman and 
went quite well. I remember there was a brown 
mare which I sold him that would occasionally 
refuse with him. He said to me : " You have a 
day on her." She carried me awfully well. It did 
not need a particularly good rider to keep her 
straight, but, you see, I knew the mare and had 
little trouble with her. 

I remember we rode back together to Naseby 
Wooleys, where he was hunting from, and our pre- 
sent Queen, Elizabeth then a little girl, came to see 
us dismount. She asked me if the mare was going 
to have her pudding, as the groom was giving the 



36 



HORSE-DEALING 

mare her mash. We went in, and the Duchess of 
York, now Queen Mother poured out tea for us. I 
remember so well her asking the Duke of York, 
how the brown mare went. He said : " Why, 
of course, she went all right." Anyhow, I thought 
it best to take her back, and sent him another in 
her place. 

I was very sorry indeed when the King gave 
up hunting. I wrote to the King and told him 
that, if it would help, I would keep two or three 
really good hunters for him, and that all he would 
have to do would be to let me know when he 
wanted to hunt and I would have the horse at the 
meet. He wrote me a charming letter to say how 
much he appreciated my offer and how sorry he 
was he could not accept it. I have several letters 
from him and books he gave me with his best 
wishes which I prize very highly. 

Here are some letters which he wrote and which 
express his sorrow at giving up hunting. 

145, Piccadilly, 

W.l. 

May 12th, 1931. 

Dear Drage, 

I was sorry not to have had another chance of 
seeing you before I left Thornby, as I wanted to 
have a talk with you about the brown mare. But 
seeing that I had not a chance I am sending you a 
cheque for ** Hildebrand " with the hope that you 



37 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

will send me a cheque soon for the brown mare 
when you have disposed of her. It is such a pity 
she turned out so badly after all our hopes, as apart 
from that one fault she is perfect. 

I have got all the horses turned out now at 
Windsor and I hope that '* Hildebrand " will look 
something different next season (if there is one). 

Yours sincerely, 

(Signed) : — Albert. 



Glamis Castle, 

Glamis, 
Scotland. 

September 17th, 1931. 

Dear Drage, 

Thank you for your letter and for your kind 
suggestion re my hunting this year. I fear that 
it will not be possible, and I must tell you the 
tragic news that I am going to sell all my horses 
at Leicester on October 31st. It is a very sad 
for me as I do really enjoy my hunting, and after 
all you have done for me it seems such an ungracious 
thing to do. But facts are facts and I must do it. 
I will send you my card giving particulars when it 
is printed, and you may perhaps know of some 
possible buyers of really tried out horses. 

I shall miss my hunting more than I can say 



38 



HORSE-DEALING 

and this winter will be a long and depressing one 
for me. 

Again so many thanks for your kind suggestion. 

Yours very sincerely, 

(Signed) : — Albert. 

Sandringham, 

Norfolk. 

10th January, 1952. 

My dear Mr. Drage, 

The King wishes me to thank you sincerely for 
your kind letter, which he much appreciates ; also 
for your good wishes for 1952 which His Majesty 
warmly reciprocates. 

Yours very truly, 

(Signed) : — A. Lascelles. 

Herbert Drage, Esq., 
Chapel Brampton, 
Northampton. 

I must relate a very pleasant experience I 
had at Newmarket, in 1950. It was on 
the July Course. I was in the enclosure, and saw 
rather a crowd of people coming along. I saw 
that it was the King and Queen, and so we all 
stood back to let them pass. But he caught sight 
of me, and beckoned to me, and both he and the 
Queen shook hands with me. I said how honoured 



39 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

I felt that he should do this. ** Oh I " he said, 
" I like to meet my old friends." 

When I was very young, I rode down to Kelmarsh 
several times to take a horse out hunting with the 
Fernie Hounds. He belonged to Mr. R. C. Naylor. 
He was Master of the Pytchley for a few years. 
I was to try to sell the horse, and I was to have all 
I could make over £300. As I said, I was very 
young and inexperienced, and really had no earthly 
chance of making £300 of the horse, but I was 
keen and, anyhow, enjoyed hunting on the horse. 

I once got up very early in the morning to go out 
with the Quorn cub hunting. I had arranged to 
try a horse that belonged to, I think, the present 
Lord Radnor. The then Lady Helena Fitzwilliam 
had arranged it all. I liked the horse very much, 
but I found that he was a slight whistler. So I 
told Lady Helena that she must reduce the price. 
Funny that I should remember her reply. She 
said Lord Radnor was adamant about that being 
the lowest price, so I had to give it, and he turned 
out very well and paid us a good profit. 

I think it was in the year the war broke out in 1939 
that there was going to be a change in the Mastership 
of the Quorn. The present Lord Beatty had 
agreed to be Master. I remember we stood 
together as hounds were drawing Ashby pasture. 
Lord Beatty was telling me that he would like to 
rely on me to find all the Hunt horses. They 
found a fox and, early in the hunt, Lord Beatty 



40 



HORSE-DEALING 

had a very bad fall, and that ended the idea of him 
becoming Master. 

During several seasons' hunting, we kept the 
horses that we had sold to Michael Beary and 
Fred Lane, and they hunted them from my place. 
Beary was a first-class man to hounds. We used 
to have quite a number of people in for tea after 
hunting. Their horses were stabled either with 
us or nearby. I was out hunting on two occasions 
when there were fatal falls. One of them was 
Hugh Owen, who was killed jumping a fence not 
far from Harborough. I was to have gone next. 
The other was one day when I was out with the 
Grafton. I forget the name of the rider, but the 
horse fell right on top of him and, before we could 
release him, he was dead. 

Two further incidents occurred in my life — 
both connected with the late Lord Beatty. One 
relates to a horse I sold him, which he had a fall 
on when jumping a fence in cold blood. When 
he fell, the horse kicked him and fractured his jaw. 

The other little incident happened one day when 
hunting with the Quorn. Hounds had gone along 
by the railway, and the field all stood crowded under 
the bridge. Then the huntsman wanted to come 
through, and, of course, the field made way for him. 
I tried to slip in behind him, but Lord Beatty 
drew across me and, in a very jocular voice, said : 
" No you don't, Bert." 

We had some other amusing incidents connected 
with our business. We once sold a horse to 

41 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

Col. Lawson, but he rang up to say he wanted to 
return him as he had a hunt on him and could not 
get on with him. So he sent him back. He 
then came up and tried several horses, and this 
one among them. He liked him and bought him 
again ! He didn't recognise him as the horse he 
had returned. When he got the horse to his 
stables his groom said : " Why, you have bought 
him back, master ! " 

Once we sold a horse to a Colonel Colman. 
It was the same horse that Colonel Colman had 
been to see in Norfolk. I remember selling a 
horse to a Captain Allfrey, and about the same time 
one to Lord Cowley. They both said the horses 
were no good, so I took them back and I sold the 
horse returned by Lord Cowley to Captain Allfrey, 
and the one returned by Captain Allfrey to Lord 
Cowley. When they met out hunting, they said 
to each other : " Why, that is the rotten horse I 
returned to Drage ! " Anyhow, they were both 
well-satisfied, and, when arguing with each other 
about the respective horses, they made a match over 
the country near to Adam Gorse. It was a very 
good race, and I forget which won — only by a few 
lengths. 

I have just read an account of the death of 
Mr. Cecil Sanders. He used to ride over from 
his home at Wollaston to hunt our horses with the 
Pytchley. He did them a lot of good, as he was a 
fine rider and went so well to hounds. 

Another hunting man who I mounted about 

42 



HORSE-DEALING 

two days a week in Leicestershire was Phillip 
Hubbersty. He lived about six miles from my 
stable at John Gaunt and hunted every Tuesday 
and most Saturdays with the Cottesmore. He was 
a very good man over a country. 

A very sad thing happened a few months ago — 
the death of Harry Gale. I had known him a 
great many years, and he worked for us buying 
horses in Ireland. I could not possibly have had 
a better man — so capable, so absolutely honest. 
I had the greatest admiration for him. He had 
not an enemy in the world, and he had a host of 
friends. He had lived in Northampton after leaving 
Ireland, and he always came over to pay me a visit 
two or three times a week. 

Again I was very lucky in having such a good 
girl, Miss Marriott, in the office. You could not 
improve on her in any respect — so intelligent and 
capable, and so nice to everyone, rich and poor 
alike. 



Show Horses. 

Alarm John Peel 

Brampton All Gold 

Red Eagle King Edward 

Chatterbox Bridge 

Miss Peel Chatterbox II. 

Red Shanks Wood Pigeon II. 



Wood Pigeon 



43 



Chapter III. 
HUNTING DAYS. 1885-1953 

During the course of my life I must have hunted 
with a dozen or more Packs of Hounds in many 
parts of England and Ireland and I call to mind the 
admiration I have felt for Huntsmen. They are a 
brave race of men and I would like to say that I 
think the most outstanding ones wefe Frank 
Freeman and Tom Firr. Huntsmen such as Leaf, 
Agutter, Laurence and Gilson were in the top 
class, but, at the present time, Stanley Barker is 
hunting his hounds as well as Frank Freeman 
before him. He has great patience, is a good 
huntsman and has a steady nerve — all these 
attributes are very necessary to make a good 
huntsman. Stanley is deservedly one of the most 
popular Huntsmen in the history of hunting I 
should guess. 

Among the many good hunts I enjoyed was one 
from Sanders covert in the Pytchley country. 
They went away straight down to the Spratton 
brook. A Mr. Walton, who was hunting from 
Weedon, went at it, but the horse jumped short 
and he went in. I was about 18 at that time but 
very keen. I was riding a horse belonging to a 
Mr. Phillips who was hunting from Harlestonc. 
I had a go and got over with a peck. John shouted 



44 



HUNTING DAYS 

to me : '* What shall I do ? " He was riding a 
four-year-old, a very good young horse. I said : 
" Send him at it, John ! " He jumped it 
brilliantly. The whole field had galloped off to the 
Merry Tom crossing, and so John and myself were 
alone with hounds. I remember I was so excited, 
and did not pull up quite soon enough and so 
jumped a gate going on towards Spratton. Then 
they turned left, and ran on to Holdenby. No one 
with us. 

Another very good hunt I had all to myself was 
one day with the Quorn. I was riding a very good 
horse of Captain Loewenstein's. They found at 
Prince of Wales' covert. I had the luck to get over 
a very nasty fence which the field had passed by, 
and so I was alone with hounds for quite a long 
time. I don't really know why it should give one 
such pleasure to be alone with hounds. Hunting 
was grand in those days — no wire about. 

Brother John was a very fine rider and went 
awfully well in his younger days. My sister was 
very good, too. She married Sydney Loder in '18 
and they always took a house in Market 
Harborough and hunted with three or four packs 
throughout the season. Her nephew, Giles Loder, 
was very keen, too, and went well to hounds. 
Both my sister and John were especially good on 
horses that wanted driving at their fences. I did 
better on a hot horse. 

I had some rare fun hunting in America — 



45 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

especially on Long Island. I had the riding of all 
Mr. Whitney's horses which he had bought of me. 
I remember once being out with Meadow Brook 
drag hounds. The fences were all made of strong 
high timber. My horse had carried me brilliantly, 
but at this fence he took off a bit too soon, turned 
over, and gave me a bad fall. When I regained 
consciousness I was in a bed in a hotel in New York. 

I enjoyed other hunts in America where they 
had what they call snake fences .In Long Island I 
found these snake fences about 4ft. 6 inches 
made of timber posts and covered fencing erect- 
ed at right angles so that in taking off to jump, 
your horse must go either to left or right — not very 
nice on hard going ! People over there 
were most kind to me. I stayed a good deal with 
Mr. Strawbridge. I returned to England with a 
lot of orders for horses. 

Another good gallop I had from Brampton's 
Fox covert. It was in the cub hunting time. I 
was going to cross to America that day, but I felt I 
should like to go out for an hour or two. They 
found at once, and ran hard and straight to Crank 
and killed him. I galloped straight home and 
changed. My things were packed, and so I was 
able to catch the train at Rugby for Liverpool. 

Another good hunt I must record from Sanders 
covert was right at the end of the season, and very 
late in the afternoon. They found at once, but 
came away towards Brampton, so I felt that was 



46 



HUNTING DAYS 

the end. I had just turned for home when I 
heard a holla away on the far side, so I started off 
with them and they ran hard and straight to, I 
think it was, Elkington. Anyhow, it was getting 
dusk when I pulled up at Cold Ashby. I rode such 
a good young horse, and sold him to Major 
Macdonald Buchanan. Sanders covert was a certain 
find in those days, and I remember three good 
hunts from there to Scotland Wood. 

I once enjoyed a hunt very much from Hardwick 
Wood. They came away over the road and ran 
down towards the Red House, Hannington. I 
got the best of the start, but I came to a gate that 
I could not open. The field came tearing down, 
and I remember Lord Spencer said : " If you 
can't open it, let me come." Of course, I ought 
to have got off and opened it for him, but I had 
caught sight of the fence on the right as I came 
down to the gate, and so I just jumped the fence 
and went on alone with hounds. 

They caught me up at Gibb Wood, and I 
remember Lord Spencer taking off his hat as he 
galloped by and said : " Thank you very much." 
Captain Bay Middleton was just behind him. 
He was very red in the face and shouted at me. I 
remember Lady Frederick was dining at his house 
that night, and she told me what Captain Middleton 
said, and how he had given me a bit of his mind. 
He was a fine rider, but he broke his neck riding 
in a point-to-point. 



47 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

A very good hunt was from Lilbourne, and 
hounds ran straight and fast across the old Rugby 
racecourse and beyond Ashby St. Ledgers 8 mile 
point. I pulled up there as I had promised to go 
with my nephew Charles to see some horses near 
Manchester. 

I had a very bad fall in 1894. I was riding a 
horse of Sir James Fenders. It was late in the day 
when they found a fox below Welford, and they ran 
bearing right over the Welford road towards Sulby. 
I came to a fence with a wide ditch in front, and 
one had to pop over the ditch on to a bank and 
then over the fence. I thought my horse was 
doing it perfectly, but something held him and he 
came right down on top of me. They killed the 
fox just close to where I lay. They carried me 
across the field and put me in one of the old four- 
wheel cabs and took me to a house in Welford 
where a hunting man lived whose name I cannot 
remember. But what I do remember was how 
very kind they were. My mother came over and 
used to sit up or be in the bedroom with me. 
I was there about two weeks when they took me 
home by ambulance and I was in bed the whole 
winter. This happened the first Wednesday in 
November. 

I stuck it all right until one morning when my 
brother looked in as usual, all dressed for hunting. 
I completely broke down, as I felt I should never 
hunt again. I remember they gave me some 



48 



HUNTING DAYS 

champagne, and that cheered me up. I lay awake 
one night, and I heard the doctor talking to my 
mother, who was sitting by the fire. I heard him 
say to my mother : " He shan't die for the want 
of attention, Mrs. Drage." Not very pleasant for 
me to hear. Then, one morning, I opened a 
letter directed to my brother, offering sympathy 
at my death. Funny how one remembers these 
things. 

I got better by degrees, and eventually could 
walk about, but I was not to ride. I remember 
standing in the yard one day and a horse was being 
led round. I just could not resist the temptation 
to get up on him, and I started off down the home 
field and back full gallop, but I made a poor show 
of it that winter as I had no grip and so had to cling 
to the saddle with my hand. 

That was a nasty fall when I broke my arm. I 
was hunting with the Cottesmore, and the horse 
fell and I got hung up. But, fortunately, when the 
horse kicked at me it released me. 

I remember one day out with the Cottesmore I 
was riding a very good horse called Sprinkle Me. 
He was a good bold horse, but never quite got 
up at his fences. I was riding him and we came to 
the Whissen dine. I held back a bit, and rather 
funked it. A hunting man I knew who had got 
over it shouted to me to come on, and Sprinkle 
Me just skimmed over it. It was the same horse 



49 



REMINISCENCES OF DERT DRAGE 

that, as I have recorded, I sold to Sir Henri 
Deterding. 

I once had a fortnight stag hunting, and I so well 
remember being entertained by the father of the 
present Lord Fortescue. I fear I made a very bad 
impression when I said, during lunch : " I don't 
suppose you take this stag hunting very seriously. 
Lord Fortescue ? " I remember there was dead 
silence. You see, it was to them the same as 
fox hunting was to me. 

Another amusing incident I must relate. I was 
in the train on my way to John Gaunt. I had not 
shaved, and so I took off my coat and went into the 
lavatory to shave. The train pulled up at 
Brixworth, and I heard the station-master say : 
" It is only Mr. Drage, my Lord." Of course I 
had to come out, and there sat Lord Chaplin — 
very amused. 

On one occasion when I broke my leg out hunting 
with the Quorn I was taken back to John Gaunt. 
My leg was bound up and I travelled home in the 
guard's van — a very unpleasant experience. I 
once had a hunt late in the day and had to ride into 
Nottingham and box my horse back to John Gaunt. 

I can never forget riding to the meet one day 
with " Ikey " Bell. He would ride straight 
across country, and he took a nasty fall and arrived 
at the meet with his hat smashed and covered with 
dirt. But that did not trouble him. He was 
such a good fellow and a great friend of mine for 



50 



HUNTING DAYS 

many years. He came to see me a short time ago. 
He is very, very lame, so crippled with arthritis — 
but alv^^ays cheerful. A very keen huntsman and 
very good over any country. I remember one 
day out with the Quorn we were drawing a covert 
lying below where we all stood. I think someone 
below thought he saw a fox go away and so he 
gave a holloa. Anyhow, off went ** I key " down 
the hill and jumped the gate at the bottom, but 
hounds had not gone, so of course, he had to come 
back. 

In 1911 there was a very good hunt from Badby 
Wood. Lord Annaly and Frank Freeman were 
having tremendous sport and I should like to 
include this hunt by recording Frank Freeman's 
own words. 

"It was in 1911 in March. That was the year 
I killed one hundred and four brace of foxes, a 
record for the Pytchley country. We'd met at 
Daventry. There had been a lot of rain the night 
before, but it was a fine but cold morning. It 
must have been about twelve fifteen, just as I was 
beginning to fear Badby Wood was blank, that 
Ted Molyneux, who was my first whip then, 
holloaed a fox away by the lodge over the Banbury 
Road. He took the usual line out by Ryton Hill 
right-hand round Arbury Hill pointing for 
Staverton. Here a silly fellow holloaed in his face 
and he turned back for Badby Wood, but could 



51 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

not get through the crowd on the Banbury Road, 
so ran down beside the hedge towards Byfield 
where hounds checked. Mr. Paget, who lived at 
Brixworth then, was riding a new horse he could not 
hold, so he jumped it out of the road on the other 
side, where he saw Gaylass and Garnish hit off 
the line down one of those Fawsley doubles. 

That Garnish was the best bitch I ever had. 
Hunt a line on the hardest dusty road, and always 
in front. Gaylass was her sister by Desperate ; 
they were both almost black with white collars. 
Garnish never bred anything half so good as herself, 
but Gaylass did. It was extraordinary how 
they picked the line through all that crowd on the 
road. I saw most of the field turn and ride up 
the road back to Badby Wood as I clapped my 
hounds over the road. They started to run like 
hell. The Fawsley doubles are almost unjumpable, 
and the hand gates delayed the field, which gave 
the hounds a real chance of settling down, not that 
they could have been interfered with much that day 
they were running that hard. 

They just touched Church Wood, but they 
never stopped for a second, and I am sure they 
never changed there. Beyond Preston Capes they 
ran over an easy country into the heart of the 
Grafton. They only went through a corner of 
Ashby Bushes. At Adstone Bottom, about a mile 
or so on, there were a lot of falls — even Lord 
Annaly had a scramble there and lost his whip — 



52 



HUNTING DAYS 

but there was no time to pick it up. Garnish and 
Gaylass, and a Hght-coloured bitch called Dimple, 
I could see were leading, but you could have 
covered the whole pack with a sheet. 

Near here Mr. Pat Nickalls and Mr. Tweed saw 
the fox only about four hundred yards ahead of 
hounds, going straight for the railway, which was 
crossed by Plumpton Wood, which would be 
about six miles straight from Arbury Hill. It is a 
great big wood, half the size of Badby, but the fox 
ran down the middle ride most of the way. Here 
I saw Postscript and Fatal turn sharp to the left. 
I don't think we could have changed there as they 
never left the line for a moment. They ran on, 
still going very fast by Wocdend, pointing for 
Wappenham, to the railway straight over the brook. 
Lord Annaly was the only one to fly it, and I heard 
several fall in, and a lot of horses were too done 
to face it. I struck it lucky by a ford. There's a 
bit of a plough near Greens Park, but it did not 
seem to slow them down. Rarity, Garnish and 
Gaylass I noticed were still leading. 

They left Weedon Bushes on the right and turned 
right-handed for Aswell Mill, and then turned 
left after crossing the stream, over some more 
plough, for what a Grafton gentleman told me was 
Crown Lands, a huge, great woodland. Just 
before w^e got there we ran into a little wood called 
Priests Hay, where hounds divided. I was a bit 
puzzled which lot were right, but I thought I had 



53 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

better trust the hounds who had been leading. 
Molyneux and Tom Peaker, who were both up, 
soon stopped the others, but two foxes had gone 
on and hounds divided again near the allotments 
below Silverstone Village. I at first thought my 
fox must have turned into Bucknells Wood and 
asked Mr. Paget, who was close to me, to stop the 
lot which were running between Crown Lands and 
Bucknells Wood. 

Mr. Garrard, of Welton, went with him, and 
they jumped the gate which was wired up into the 
allotments, but my lot threw up, so I blew my 
horn, the first time I had used it since recrossing 
the Banbury Road, to prevent those gentlemen 
stopping hounds. I thought all was over when, as I 
had hoped, the fox did not run on but turned in at 
the furthest corner of Bucknells Wood, a 
tremendous grat place, bad scenting and full of 
foxes. 

Here Lord Roseberry, Lord Dalmeny he was 
then, caught a glimpse of a beaten fox with a couple 
of hounds close behind him. He could not tell 
me which they were. I got the rest of the pack on 
to the line, and they carried it right through the 
wood and out on the Wappenham side. A man 
from the village told me the couple had hunted up 
to the hedge by a stream, where they had checked, 
and I was afraid he must have got in somewhere, 
which would have been a terrible disappointment 
to the hounds after such a hunt. I cast round to 



54 



HUNTING DAYS 

make sure and returned to the hedge, when I saw 
Rarity's hackles go up and she dived into the ditch 
and pinned him. He was a great greyhound of a 
fox, and had all his teeth — not at all an old fox. 
He went quite stiff the moment he was dead, and 
stood up to face the hounds. Molyneux was sure 
he was the same fox he viewed away from Badby 
Wood. 

The time was two hours and five minutes from 
find to kill, a fourteen-mile point and about twenty- 
two miles as hounds ran. I think it was about 
half-an-hour after entering Bucknells that we 
killed, which shows how fast the pace had been. 
If Garnish and Gaylass were the hounds his 
Lordship saw in the wood they had never left the 
line for a second. Not a hound was missing. 

I am sorry I cannot tell you much about the 
people. When one is hunting hounds one has no 
time or thought for anything else. I was luckily 
on one of the best horses I ever rode, called 
Starlight, who was quite fresh at the end, as were 
the two whips', which speaks well for Mr. Gibbs, 
the kennel studsman. Not a single second horse 
arrived at the kill. They had all waited at Preston 
Capes. 

I remember his Lordship kept the mask and gave 
Lady Dalmeny the brush, and Mr. Tweed, Mrs. 
Borrett, Mr. Romer Williams and Captain 
Elmhirst got the pads. The last two came up from 
Wapping Village just as we killed. I saw Captain 



55 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

Sowerby's little grey lying down in Bucknells 
Wood, but it recovered. 

Lord Annaly ordered hounds home from here. 

We had about twenty miles home, and his 
Lordship told us to go into the Pomfret Arms as 
we passed through Towcester ; but Captain 
Elmhirst said we would have to stop at his place at 
Blisworth if we put in at twenty Pomfret Armses. 

He rode on and had port and cake waiting for 
us in the road as we passed ; as we were finished 
Lord Annaly passed us in cab he had hired in 
Towcester. There were not many motor cars or 
telephones in those days. 

Mr. Tweed rode all the way home with the 
hounds to Brixworth, where we found some 
champagne and sandwiches in the feeding house, 
sent by one of the gentlemen who lived in the 
village. 

I think it was the best day I ever had." 

Frank Freeman 

(I include this with the very kind permission of 
" The Field.") 

I remember some good fun I had in Ireland. I 
went over with Captain Lowenstein. A well- 
known dealer mounted us, and, as I expect he felt 
that Captain Lowenstein might be a good customer, 
he put him on a high-class blood horse. I was on 
a much commoner horse. Captain Lowenstein 
was getting on very badly with his horse, as he was 



56 



HUNTING DAYS 

inclined to be hot and did not do the banks well. 
So he asked me if I would change horses. The 
dealer was not very pleased ! 

I once had a fall that shook me up. I was out 
with the Whaddon Chase, and, galloping up a 
field, a cow crossed me and it turned my horse over, 
I went on however I 

Once I was riding a pony and standing near to a 
ditch. I expect I was standing over a wasp's nest, 
and the pony got badly stung and eventually 
kicked me off and broke my collarbone. I was 
never more than about 9 stone 7 lbs., and I think 
my bones must have not been very strong. 

I must tell of a very good hunt I had with the 
Quorn. Mr. George Drummond kindly mounted 
me on two very good horses. They carried me 
brilliantly. We drew Prince of Wales Covert and 
found immediately, after a fast run we ran into the 
Belvoir country about a 10 miles point. I was 
so grateful to Mr. Drummond. It was from 
Pitsford Hall after the First World War that the 
Prince of Wales began his hunting, as the guest 
of Mr. George Drummond. 

I had four or five very enjoyable days with the 
Old Berks. Tommy McDougal was the Master, 
and he eventually bought all his horses off us. 
He once had a bad accident. Standing on the 
platform to entrain he slipped and lost his foot. 
This did not stop him hunting however. He was 
real Beau Brummel. 



57 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

I remember what was rather amusing to me. I 
had broken my right leg three times and the 
insurance company refused to insure that leg again. 
Then I had a bad fall, but this time I broke the 
leg that was insured, so, after that, they refused 
to insure me. 

I should like to tell of another nasty fall 
I had. I was hunting with the Quorn, and I took 
on some rather high rails with a ditch on the landing 
side. I expect the horse, in trying to refuse, 
swerved, and Captain Frank Forester, the Master, 
was just behind me and knocked me and the horse 
over the rails. I remember all he said was : 
" Why the 'ell do you come in front of me on a 
refusing 'ors3 — he had no ' H ' in his vocabulary. 

Since the last world war I have had some good 
hunting, principally with the Pytchley. I also have 
had some very good days when I went with that 
great sportsman Gerald Glover to hunt with the 
Quorn and with the Grafton. He used to box 
me to the Meet and usually mount me. He is very 
fond of hunting and no one goes better. He has 
some useful mares at his Stud at Pytchley House, 
where he breeds bloodstock and farms some 400 
acres. 

I have always been interested in the different 
styles adopted by various Masters of hounds and 
they do vary a great deal. I think one of the most 
popular Master of Hounds was Major Burnaby of 
The Quorn ; also Charlie McNeil and C. W. B. 



58 



HUNTING DAYS 

Fernie and Sir Charles Lowther and the third 
Lord Annaly. were outstanding. The best com- 
bination the Pytchley ever had were Annaly and 
Frank Freeman. 

Having mentioned these names of famous 
Masters I cannot conclude without recording that 
in my opinion one of the best Fieldmasters is our 
present Master of the Pytchley, Colonel Jack 
Lowther. His quiet but commanding manner is 
respected by all. 

I lost my dearest and best friend when Lady 
Frederick died in 1948. She collapsed just when 
her maid was putting her to bed. The doctor 
came over here at once and took Miss Carter back 
to be with Lady Frederick's maid. I felt her 
death very much. I had known her for 60 years. 
She and her brother bought all their horses from 
me. There was hardly a week passed that she 
did not pop over to see me or I went over to 
Lamport. She was beloved by everyone. 



59 



Chapter IV. 
BLOODSTOCK AND RACING. 

I WON quite a number of races on the flat with 
horses I bred. I had a very good horse called 
Prince Umbria. When I bought him I had not 
arranged who to send him to. I was walking up 
the street at Newmarket with Charlie McNeill. 
I was talking to him about this and I remember 
saying : "I wish I could get Fred Darling to 
take him." CharHe McNeill said : " Why, there 
is his father just in front of us. I will introduce 
you to him." And I so well remember Mr. Sam 
Darling (Fred's father) saying : " Why, I would 
start training again myself if my son cannot take 
the horse." 

I had never seen Fred but I soon felt 
he would become a noted trainer. He won several 
races for me, but once he gave me bad advice. 
I was ofl^ered 6,000 for Prince Umbria, and, 
naturally, was very keen to sell. It was a large 
sum of money to me, but Fred was very opposed to 
selling him. He said that he thought he would be 
one of the best of his year. I felt I must give way, 
as, you see, Fred had brought the horse on and 
taken so much trouble with him. But he dis- 
appointed us, and eventually I had to take 700 for 
him. He won a race with a filly called Hardistone. 



60 



BLOODSTOCK AND RACING 

I bought her very cheaply off a farmer and then 
sold her pretty well. 

When Fred became such a fashionable trainer I 
wrote him that I felt my horses were not class 
enough for him to bother with. He wrote me a very 
nice letter back saying that he would always be 
pleased to train any horse for me. I forget just 
what other horses he had of mine, but I know he 
did very well for me. 

I have had horses with several trainers — Basil 
Jarvis, Sadler, Leach, Vasey at Hambleton, Matthew 
Peacock, Captain Renwick and Peter Gilpin. 
I remember being very lucky with a race I won at 
Ripon or Redcar, I forget which. It took place 
on a Bank Holiday and I caught an early train from 
Harborough. When I got to Derby I popped 
out and sent a wire to Captain Renwick to put me 
£15 on. Then, when we got to Leeds, I realised 
that my only chance of seeing the race was to get 
a taxi straight to the course. Of course, the man 
at the gate wanted me to pay, and I said : " Do 
let me in, I've got a horse in this race." He said : 
" The race is just over." I met my trainer leading 
the horse in, and he congratulated me and said he 
had told a Mr. Wilson (one of his patrons) to 
put my money on. Then I came across Mr. 
Wilson, who also congratulated me and said : 
" I put your £S0 on." He misunderstood Captain 
Renwick, who he thought said it was £50 I wanted 
on, so I won ;£300 as the horse started at 6 to 1 . 



61 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

I was also very lucky with a horse I ran — I think 
it was at Wetherby. He was made a favourite 
and a Mr. Wilson, whom I have previously 
mentioned, was talking to me just before the race. 
He said how lucky I was with only about two horses 
in the stable and both likely winners, so I said : 
*' Why not buy my horse now before the start, 
and then you will have a winner, I feel sure." 
We agreed on the price, but, I regret to say, he was 
beaten. I am afraid he never won. 

I ver}^ nearly got into a lot of trouble. I had two 
horses in training at Newmarket, Ayot and Faiza, 
but with no success, and so I had them sent home 
in the autumn. Then I arranged with an old friend 
of mine, named Matthew Peacock, to take them, 
and I told him just to win any race he could with 
them, and sell them. He won with one somewhere 
up North and sold it. Then, as racing was nearly 
over, he sent the other one home to me. Naturally, 
I went to the box when it arrived and, to my dismay, 
I found he had sent the wrong horse. When I 
sent them to him one was a two-year-old and the 
other a three-year-old, and he had got them mixed. 

I had an animal (I forget its name) in partnership 
with my sister. It was in a race at Hamilton Park. 
We met at Carlisle and then went on together. 
We won easily and I sold the animal to Lord 
Lonsdale for ;£700, which paid us very well. I 
remember winning a race — I think that was at 
Redcar. My horse was trained by Vasey at 



62 



BLOODSTOCK AND RACING 

Hambledon. He was a very fine colt, but this 
was his first race. Somehow the pubUc had 
heard a good account of him, and he started 
favourite. I think the price was 3 to 1. I had 
;£300 on him. When the field came into sight 
he was leading and looked like winning easily, but 
the nearer they got to the finish the closer they 
got to him. But he won by a head. I felt he 
probably was not very game, and decided to sell 
him — also another, a very useful horse I had. 
They both made good prices, but I was well out 
as they never won again. 

The one he won with was a year older than the 
race was made for, so he was carrying the weight 
of a three-year-old whereas he was a four-year-old. 
I was in such a fright, and I wired straight away 
to Weatherby's to say I was coming to see them 
with regard to what had happened. I felt if anyone 
got there before I had reported it I should probably 
be warned off. Anyhow, after my explanation 
they did not take it as seriously as I thought they 
would. I think I was right when I told them I 
would forego the stake which I could have stuck 
to if I had liked, but I felt it would have been very 
unfair to the man who was second. It is all 
reported in Ruffs Guide, I believe. 

I got involved in another objection in the same 
year. I had bought a very good mare for Captain 
Lowenstein, called Lady Starlight, but he, for 
some reason, did not want to keep her. So I 



63 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

bought her from him and I sold a half share to a 
Mrs. Ambrose Clark. She was in a race at York. 
I wired to Mrs. Clark in America asking her if 
she would care to sell her share, which she did. 
This all happened a short time before the race, so, 
to avoid any trouble, I wired to Weatherbys office 
to say the mare was my sole property. She won 
all right, but Lord Glaneley, whose horse was 
favourite, was second and he objected to mine. 
His objection plea was described as wrongful- 
ownership. You see, this mare had just been 
entered in Captain Lowenstein's name and then as 
Mrs. Clark's. Anyhow, I met Lord Glaneley 
in the sale paddock at Doncaster the following 
week, and he said how much he regretted having 
to object : " But, you see, Bert, so many of my 
friends had backed mine, and so I was sort of 
bound to do it, but I had met Mr. Weatherby just 
before and he told me I had nothing to fear." 

We went before the Stewards at Doncaster, and I 
remember Lord Hamilton was again the Chief 
Steward. Anyhow, they rejected the objection 
and fined Lord Glaneley £2S. I remember 
meeting Lord Hamilton in the paddock at the 
races, and he came across to me and said : " Now, 
if I were you, Bert, I should give up racing. You 
seem to be all the time in trouble." He was a 
charming man, and a very good customer of mine. 

I bred a very useful horse out of Wild Rose. 
I think we named him Rose Wreath, but as a 



64 



BLOODSTOCK AND RACING 

yearling he developed spavin. I always feel that 
the most permanent cure of a spavin causing 
lameness is to let the animal gallop and trot as 
much as he likes in a field. What causes lameness 
from a spavin is the roughness of the bone, but if 
the horse uses the hock a lot it wears smooth and so 
is not so likely to cause lameness. 

Anyhow I had the colt castrated and turned him 
out for six months. He got quite sound and I 
sent him to Bert Randall to train. He was a big 
colt and I though the best plan was not to run him 
early in the year. I put him in four races right 
at the back end. I told Randall not to hurry but 
just have him ready at the back end. I remember 
his first race was at Leicester. When I saw him 
in the paddock I was very disappointed, as I thought 
Bert had hurried him in his preparation and I told 
him so as tactfully as I could, and after the race I 
should like him to go straight up to Peacock at 
Middleham. Bert rode him and won comfortably. 
I felt such a fool, and I told Bert that I was very 
sorry and that he had better take him back. I 
never had anything on him. 

His next race was at Lewes, about two weeks 
later. He was favourite, and I backed him, but 
he was easily beaten. Then, in about a fortnight 
he ran again at Leicester and won. The next week 
he ran at Warwick and won again. The only time 
I backed him was when he got beat — not very 
clever. 



65 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

I once bought a half share in a very good horse 
called Alan Breck — he had been bought for 4,000 
by Peter Gilpin and Donald Eraser. I was abroad 
at the time, so I wired Peter Gilpin that I would 
give him 4,000 for his share. So I was an equal 
partner then with Donald Eraser. We stood him 
at Donald Eraser's place for, I think it was, two 
years, and then sold him for 18,000gns. to go 
abroad. 

The following are some of the bloodstock : — 





Brood Mares. 


Wild Rose 




Self Sacrifice 


Perfelfla, Vol. 24- 


-25 


Bay Duchess, Vol. 22 


Mesquite, Vo. 27 




Harem, Vol. 22 


Most Beautiful 




Caltha 


Erantic 




Chalcedony 


Miss Ray, Eoaled 1910 


Caragh 


Judith, Eoaled 1909 


Tingitana 


Bay Duchess, 22 






Harem, Vol. 22 








Racehorses. 


Lady Starlight 




Malna 


Golden Miller 




Rose Wreath 


Sprinkle Me 




Eaiza 


Merry Tom 




John Lambton 


Prince Umbria 




Bay Duchess 


Hardingstone 23 




Brown Magic 



66 



BLOODSTOCK AND RACING 

Chapel Brampton Chatham 

Fiat Wild Oats 

Rose Ronald Palma 

Spitalfields Prevail, see 1921 

Ayot Osiris 



67 



Chapter V. 
STEEPLECHASING WITHOUT TEARS. 

I was once rung up very early one morning by 
Captain Loewenstein. He said : *' I wish you 
would go down to Cheltenham to-day, Bert, and 
buy me the best horse you can that has some chance 
of winning the Grand National, So, of course, 
I went and I came across Percy Whitaker who was 
very much in the 'chasing world. He advised me 
to try to buy Easter Hero, which I managed with 
his help to do. I agreed to give 7,000 for him and 
another 3,000 if he won. He was in a ;£500 race 
later in the day, but I took him out of it as I felt 
if, by chance, he got beat I should not look to have 
spent Captain L's. money very well and if he won 
the ;£500 race it would not count for much. 

I let Percy Whitaker have him to train, and I 
went down and saw him do some work over fences. 
I never saw a horse skim over them at such a pace 
as he did without hitting them. So I went with 
Capt. Loewenstein to Liverpool to see him run. 
It ended disastrously as he fell at the fence at the 
canal turn. The jockey said it was the people on 
the stand at the turn which put him off. I saw 
the race with Captain Loewenstein from the Grand 
Stand. No one could have behaved more sportingly. 

He never grumbled or uttered one word 



68 



STEEPLECHASING WITHOUT TEARS. 

of complaint but it must have been a great dis- 
appointment to him. 

His next race was the big steeplechase in France. 
We had the same jockey, who was reckoned to be 
the best at that time. He fell at about the first 
fence, nearly opposite the Stands. Captain 
Loewenstein was very annoyed, as he had advised 
Percy Whitaker to get the best French jockey he 
could. 

Another fine sportsman but unlucky owner who 
tried to win the Grand National was Lord Mildmay 
and his son Anthony. Here is a letter from him 
just after the 1936 Grand National which shows 
what a chancy business chasing really is ! 

Dear Bert, 

You will have seen of the disastrous experiences 
of my son and his horse in the Grand National, 
and you will like to know something about what 
happened. 

Through riding, last year, a chance mount, of 
the jumping powers of which he knew nothing, 
over the Liverpool course, my son had the most 
ghastly and crushing fall — broke his arm, two ribs, 
bad concussion with such resultant shock to the 
heart that the official doctor gave him up when he 
was brought by ambulance to the stand. He was 
desperately keen to ride this year, but I felt that 
the risk of a chance mount must not be run again. 
The one necessity was a good jumper, and such, 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

I heard was " Davey Jones," which was one of 
the very few horses of the Grand National entry 
to come into the market, a horse with a quite 
beautiful fore-head and shoulders : and so, to cut 
a long story short, I bought him from the trainer, 
Grayson, at no great price, as he was tubed. He 
had won some selling races of small value on the 
flat, and had never run over a country before last 
October. Grayson stipulated, after the bargain 
was struck, that, before handing Davey Jones 
over to me, he should run in his (Grayson's) name 
in a steeplechase at Manchester, in which he had 
entered him. Grayson put up his own jockey, 
and a proper mess the horse made of the race, 
coming in nowhere — the jockey must have ridden 
him badly, I thought that I had been thoroughly 
" had." I never imagined that he would eventually 
run so well. You know the sequel. 

Anthony dashed him off quicker than any other 
horse, and he led over the first fence, a considerable 
advantage in such a crowd of horses, five of which 
fell at the obstacle. I asked him what had 
emboldened him to make the running from start 
to finish for 4i miles, which had never been done 
before in this race. He answered that, after 
jjmping off first and striding along in the lead, 
he found himself galloping at no greater pace 
than the horse (he knew) could go with ease to 
himself — at that very pace, indeed, no faster and 
no slower, which would enable Davey Jones to 



70 



STEEPLECHASING WITHOUT TEARS. 

get to the winning post in his best time. This 
being so, in his judgment it was obviously best to 
let him continue indefinitely to gallop along in 
front, where he would run no risks of being brought 
down by horses falling in front of him. As some 
of the most experienced of racing men have since 
told me, his judgment of pace was absolutely 
correct, for no one tried to get in front of him, for 
all felt that the pace was fast enough, nor did 
they lay out of their ground (hang back) since they 
could not feel that Anthony was making the pace 
too fast. He deliberately rode a " waiting race in 
front " — one of the hardest things to do in racing. 

You will have read the published account of the 
race, and I am not going to repeat it. I only say 
that, at the last turn, with only four or five fences 
to jump, all the runners had been tailed off except 
Reynoldstown, who was a couple of lengths behind 
him, and it was then that their duel was fought. 
Reynoldstown's rider forced him up to challenge 
Anthony, and to the astonishment of everybody, 
Davey Jones prevailed. In the course of this 
effort, Reynoldstown made a very bad mistake 
at the fence near the turning, shooting his rider, 
Walwyn, on to his neck as he landed. Though 
Walwyn made a wonderful recovery, getting back 
into the saddle, this gave Anthony a lead of five 
lengths, with Davey Jones still going " on the bit," 
with ease to himself. You will have read the rest. 

It was only just before the last fence, when both 



71 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

man and horse were on the happiest terms with 
each other and balanced, that the catastrophe 
came and the reins broke — when Anthony had won 
his race as was subsequently admitted by the 
winning rider himself. 

As to what really happened to the reins. It 
seems that all present-day steeplechase jockeys, 
when they come to the fences, and especially such 
big obstacles as those at Aintree, have to let the 
reins run through their fingers right out to the 
buckle, in order that the horse may be given 
sufficient rein and liberty to recover when landing, 
or in the case of any mistake, and in order that 
they themselves may be able to lie right back on 
the horse's quarters. 

As at every other obstacle, Anthony let the 
reins out to their fullest extent at the last fence 
but one. But the buckle was rotten, and parted. 
The reins, being greasy with the perspiration of 
the horse, flew off on either side, leaving him 
quite powerless. He tried to keep the horse 
straight with his whip, and by hitting him with his 
hand, but it was no good. I have since been told 
by expert jockeys that he was but doing what is 
invariably done. 

As to the breakage itself, it was not the leather 
which broke, but it was the steel tongue of the 
buckle which parted, a very bad business ! 

It was hard luck, but Anthony took it wonder- 



72 



STEEPLECHASING WITHOUT TEARS. 

fully well, and said to me, '* Never mind — I'll 
win next year ! " 

Discussing with him after the race why Davey 
Jones had run so wonderfully well, I said that the 
horse must be an extraordinary stayer. " No," 
said he, he did not think that he was. " You 
must be talking nonsense," I answered. " No," 
he replied, " I believe that his success was due 
to the fact that the Aintree fences are so big that 
each means an exhausting effort to the competing 
horses. Davey Jones is such a jumper, he takes 
his fences in such effortless fashion, with such 
ease, he correctly and intelligently times his stride 
to the varying requirements of each of the greatly 
differing fences, that he gets over the formidable 
obstacles with a minimum of effort, and gains a 
length every time on any other horse." He ' floats 
over them,' to use Lady Daresbury's expression 
in her letter to me. 

I have written at wicked length, and will have 
bored you. 

It was a sad ending, but I am very proud of the 
horse, and of Anthony. 

Yours sincerely, 

(Signed) Mildmay. 

I rode a few times at Rugby and Towcester. 
I did win one point-to-point. John won a good 
many. He had the right temperament. 



73 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

One day Major Macdonald Buchanan asked me 
if I would go down to Lavington stud to see a 
thoroughbred horse there, that he had taken out of 
training and tell me whether I felt the horse would 
be likely to win a premium at the show in London 
as a hunter sire. When I got back I told him that I 
felt certain he would win a premium, and probably a 
super premium, so he asked me if I would have him 
at Brampton and get him in form for the show, 
which I agreed to do. He won, as I felt sure he 
would — also a super premium and King's Cup. 
Then he asked me if I would let the horse stand 
at Brampton for the season. Now came the 
tragedy. I can't really remember, but I think he 
had a severe attack of colic. Anyhow, it ended fatally. 
I was really very upset, and I think he realised this. 
He came over and spent an hour with me — not to 
complain, as he never did, but just simply to cheer 
me up. I can never forget this kind action, one 
of many that I received from him. 

When the second world war broke out Major 
Macdonald Buchanan, who was then Joint Master 
of the Pytchley, came over to see me and he 
asked me if I would take charge of his farming 
operations while he was at the war. Of course, I 
said I would do anything I could for him. He had 
always been so very kind to me. I advised him to 
appoint a Bailiff and young Mr. Messinger got 
the job. He is still in charge. 

To go back to my father's affairs. He had always 



74 




I 



Miss CARTER 



STEEPLECHASING WITHOUT TEARS. 

kept a good hunter sire, but the time came when 
he was without one, so he and I went to the 
December Sales at Newmarket and, after spending 
three days there, and not finding what we wanted, 
we had decided to come home. I was watching 
a string of horses walking round preparatory to going 
into the sale ring, and I was very struck with a 
brown horse and so, really just out of curiosity, I 
looked it up in the catalogue. When I saw how 
he was bred I felt sure he would make a big price, 
but, to my astonishment, they could not get anyone 
to start him. Eventually, I think, he was started 
at about 200, so I found my father and persuaded 
him to bid for him. I think we got him for about 
360. He was about the only thoroughbred horse 
that I heard Tattersall give a guarantee of soundness 
with. He was a very good looking horse by 
Galopin out of Spinaway (winner of the Oaks). 
No better bred horse existed. He made a wonder- 
ful Hunter Sire. 

I must relate a very amusing incident in my life. 
We used to break a few horses into harness, and 
we had one of those tall skeleton brakes that one 
sits high up on. The late Lord Spencer happened 
to call one day and saw me get up, and he said he 
would like to come with me. I was a very poor 
coachman and Lord Spencer criticised the way I 
was driving. I was rather nervous with him sitting 
perched up by my side and we nearly had a spill. 
He ended up by teaching me how to drive. 



REMINISCENCES OF BERT DRAGE 

He was very, very kind to us in our early days on 
the farm. 

I remember he made me laugh one day. The 
Mr. Messinger who managed our farm for us 
lived in ahouse on the Merry Tom Farm, and he 
complained to me that his living room was too 
small so Lord Spencer said he would like to see 
it. The room was certainly small, but he had a 
table in it. Lord Spencer said : ' Surely, 
Messinger, your table is too big." How we all 
laughed — including Mr. Messinger. 

Stallions. 

Chanteur Cock-a-Hoop 

Drummonds Pride Alan Breck 

Adam Bede The Weaver 

Pytchley Markab 

Hanover Square Solomons Seal 

FINALE. 

I am now mcII again, playing golf and riding 
but do not jump, for at 88 I leave it to the younger 
generation. 

I am very, very fortunate in having 
such a nice person. Miss Carter, to keep house for 
me and look after me. Candidly, I don't think I 
should be alive to-day if it had not been for her 
care and prompt attention on several occasions. 
She has been with me about nineteen years. I 



76 



STEEPLECHASING WITHOUT TEARS 

should be just lost without her. She is a fully 
trained nurse, and has been twice called to 
Buckingham Palace to be decorated for her war 
services. 



I must thank Mr. Robert Colville of "The 
Field" for assisting me in arranging the material. 



77 



INDEX 



Adam, Gorse, 42 

Adams, Sam, 26 

Adstone, Bottom, 52 

Agutter, 44 

Aintree, 72, 73 

Alexander, Col., 27 

Alison, 19 

Allfrey, Capt., 42 

Annalv, Lord, 35, 51, 52, 53, 

56, 59 
Arburv, Hill, 51, 53 
Argyle, Nellie, 18 
Arkwright, Esme, 35 
Ashby, 40 

Ashby St. Ledgers, 48 
Ashwell, 17 

Badby Wood, 51—55 

Banbury, 51 — 54 

Barker, Stanley, 44 

Barley Thorpe, 30 

Bearv, Michael, 41 

Beaufort, Duke of, 29 

Beattv, Lord, 40, 41 

Belinda, 19 

Bell, I key, 50, 51 

Belvoir, the, 57 

Berks, The Old, 57 

Biarritz, 17 

Bishop of Peterborough, 19 

Blackmore Vale, 35 

Blisworth, 56 

Blues, The, 16 

Borrett, Mrs., 55 

Bowlby, G., 16 

Brixworth, 50, 52, 56 

Buchanan, Major Macdonald, 

47, 74 
Buckingham Palace, 76 
Bucknells Wood, 54, 55 
Burnaby, Major, 32, 34, 58 
Burrough, 30 
Byfield, 53 

Carlisle, 62 
Carter, Miss, 59, 76 
Castlereagh, Lady, 29 
Castlereagh, Lord, 29 



Chapel Brampton, 12, 14, 32, 

46, 74 
Chaplin, Lord, 50 
Cheltenham, 68 
Cheshire Hunt, 28 
Church Wood, 52 
Clark, Mrs. Ambrose, 64 
Cold Ashbv, 47 
Colling, Bob, 22 
Colman, Col., 42 
Cottersbrooke, 13 
Cottesmore, The, 17, 23, 24, 29, 

30, 32, 43, 49 
Cowley, Lord, 42 
Crank, 46 
Cripps, Phil, 12 

Darling, Fred, 60, 61 

Darling, Sam, 60 

Daventrv, 23, 34, 51 

Derby, 61 

Deterding, Sir Henri, 33, 34, 50 

Doncaster, 64 

Drage, Elizabeth, 17 

Drage, Francis, 12, 14, 17, 20 

Drage, John, 12—16, 18, 19, 27, 

28, 44, 45, 73 
Drage, John, Senior, 13 
Drage, Maie, 18 
Drage, Mar>s 12, 20 
Drage, Nelly, 12 
Drage, Susan, 18 
Drage, Violet, 18 
Drage, William, 13 
Drummond, George, 57 
Dublin, 23, 25 
Dulmeny, Lord, 45, 55 

Earle, Sir Hardman, 20 
Elhirst, Capt., 55, 56 
Elizabeth, Queen, 36 
Elkington, 47 
Exton, 30 

Farmer, Dick, 16, 19, 23, 28 
Faxton, 12 
Fernie, C. W. B., 59 
Fernie, The, 24, 40 



Firr, Tom, 44 

Fitzwilliam, Lady Helena, 4U 

Forester, Capt. Frank, 58 

Fortescue, Lord, 50 

Fraser, Donald, 66 

Frederick, Lady, 47, 59 

Freeman, Frank, 44, 51 — 55, 59 

Gale, Harrv, 25, 28, 43 

Gale, William, 25 

Garrard, Mr. 54 

George VI., King, 36, 37, 38, 39 

Georgina, 19 

Gibb Wood, 47 

Gibbs, Rev. Jack, 29 

Gibbs, Mr., 55 

Gilpin, P., 61, 66 

Gilson, 44 

Glammis, 38 

Glaneley, Lord, 64 

Gloucester, Duchess of, 19 

Glover, Gerald, 58 

Grand National, 68, 69 — 73 

Grafton, The, 41, 52, 58 

Grayson, 70 

Greens Park, 53 

Guest, Merthyr, 35 

Hambledon, 63 
Hames, Mr., 17 
Hamilton, Lord, 64 
Hamilton Park, 62 
Hannington, 12, 47 
Harlestone, 44 
Hardwick Wood, 47 
Harrison, Col., 16 
Holdebrand, 37, 38 
Holcot, 13 
Holdenbv, 15, 45 
Hubbersty, Philip, 43 

Ireland, 16, 18, 23, 25, 43, 44, 56 

Jarvis, Basil, 61 

John, Gaunt, 24, 32, 43, 50 

Johnson, Major, 35 



Kansas City, 17, 20 

Kelmarsh, 40 

Ker, Lord Alistair Ines, 16 



Lamport, 59 

Lane, Fred, 41 

Lascelles, A., 39 

Laurence, 44 

Lavington, 74 

Lawson, Col., 42 

Leach, 61 

Leaf, 44 

Leeds, 61 

Leicester, 36, 38, 65 

Lennox, Lord Algernon Gordon, 

16 
Lewes, 65 
Lilbourne, 48 
Liverpool, 46, 68, 69 
Loder, Giles, 45 
Loder, Sydney, 45 
Loewenstein, Capt. Alfred, 32, 

45, 56, 63, 64, 68, 69 
Loewenstein, Bobbie, 33 
Long Island, 46 
Lonsdale, Lord, 30, 62 
Lowther, Col. Jack, 59 
Lowther, Sir Charles, 59 

Manchester, 70 

Market Harborough, 13, 41, 

45, 61 
Mawsley, 12 
McDougal, Tommy, 57 
McKie, Col., 27 
McNeil, Charlie, 58, 60 
Messinger, Mr. 12, 15, 76 
Messinger, Richard, 15, 74 
Middleton, Capt. Bay, 47 
Mildmay, Anthonv, 69, 70 
Mildmay, Lord, 69 
Molyneux, Ted, 51 — 55 
Moulton, 18 

Nasebv, Wooleys, 36 
Naylor, R. C, 40 
Newmarket, 39, 75 
New York, 46 
Nickalls, Pat, 53 
Norfolk, 42 

Northampton, 12, 23, 26 
Northampton Grammar School, 

14 
Norwich, 34 
Nottingham, 50 



Onslow, Major Hughes, 21 
Onsten Wood, 17 
Owen, Hugh, 41 

Paget, Mr., 52 
Peacock, Matthew, 61, 62 
Peaker, Tom, 54 
Penders, Sir James, 48 
Pitsford Hall, 57 
Phillips, Mr. 44 
Plumpton Wood, 53 
Preston Capes, 52, 55 
Pytchley, 34, 42, 51 
Pytchlev House, 58 
Pvtchlev, The, 27, 40, 44, 58, 
59,' 74 

Quorn, The, 23, 24, 32, 34, 40, 
41, 45, 50, 51, 57, 58 

Radnor, Lord, 40 
Randall, Bert, 65 
Redcar, 61, 62 
Renwick, Capt., 61 
Ripon, 61 

Roseberry, Lord, 54 
Rugby, 16, 46, 48, 73 
Ryton Hill, 51 

Sadler, 61 
Sanders, 46, 47 
Sandringham, 39 
Saunders, Cecil, 42 
Scotland Wood, 47 
Shell Mex, 33 
Sinnington, 22 
Silverstone, 54 
Somerby, 17 
Sowerby, Capt., 56 
Spencer, Lord, 47, 75, 76 
Spratton, 44, 45 
Staverton, 51 
Strawbridge, Mr., 29, 46 
Sulby, 48 
Swan, R. C, 36 



Tweed, Mr., 53, 55, 56 

Vasey, 61, 62 

Wales, Prince of, 57 

Walton, Mr. 44 

Wappenham, 53, 54 

Wapping Village, 55 

Warwick, 65 

Weatherby, Mr. 64 

Weedon, 27, 44 

Weedon Bushes, 53 

Welford, 48 

Wellingboro, Grammar School, 

14 
Welton, 54 
Wetherby, 62 
Whaddon Chase, 57 
Whitaker, Percy, 68, 69 
Whitney, Harry, 31, 46 
Williams, Romer, 55 
Wilson, Mr., 61, 62 
Windsor, 16, 38 
Wollaston, 43 
Woods, Cecil, 14 
Woods, John, 12, 14 



Tattersalls, 32, 75 
Thornby, 37 

Thorpe, Satchville, 32, 33 
Topham, Arthur, 23, 24, 25 
Towcester, 56, 73 



MERCURY & HERALD, FRIDAY, DECE >I 



COUNTY PARADE ^^ 

88, HIS FIRST BOOK 
JUST BEEN PUBLIS 

COPY of a remarkable new book appeared on my 
desk this week. And remarkable is the right word, 
for it has been written comparatively recently by a 
Northamptonshire man who is new "getting c>n for 89," 
to quote his own words. 

He had never written anything for publication 
befo-re, not even an article — let alone a complete and 
fully illustrated volume that runs to 77 pages! 

''Reminiscences of Bert Drage" (David Green, Ket- 
tering, 10s.. 6d.) is the book. And the Bert Drage of the 
title is Mr. Herbert Drage, of Chapel Brampton. 

This is how the auto-j, 

biography starts off: ''I] 
have had a gnand life — I 
more hunting thian anyj 
man living, I should think. | 

"I am writing this in bed, 
(January, 1953). I had a fallj 
about a month ago and fractured j 
my thigh .... I have broken so 
many bones, but never niy thigh 
before. I have broken by legs six 
times, collar-bone twice, ribs, 
both arms and pelvis, and '■ 
cracked my shoulder-blade. ThCj 
broken pelvis was the worst. ! 

'• I supipose I ought to give up 
jumping fences now, as I have 
lost my grip and probably I oeveT 
ought to have come off-" 

Yes, startled reader, it was a 
fall from a horse that broke Mr. 
Drage's thigh ! Although in his 
middle 80's, he was still out hunt- 
ing with the Pytchley ! 

Turn to the end of the book 
and you will read what I think Is 
an equa.lly surprising FINALE : 
"I aim now well again, playing 
golf and riding, but do not jump, 
for at 88 I leave it to the younger 
■generation." 



23, 1955. 




I 'think this is one of the most 
telling sententces I have ever 
read. Here Is the essence of an, 
obviously great personality. At: 
88, he -4«a^ves jumping to the i 
'younger generation" — those, I 
presume, in their fifties 
sixties ! 



an-d I 



His enthusiasm 

Most of the book is lake that. 
Calm understatement, a wealth 
of (local colour, and tremendous 
enthusiasm for field sports and 
everything to do with them. 

That enthusiasm is understand- 
able. Mr. Drage, a bachelor, has 
been a horse-dealer, bloodstock, 
'hunting, racing, and steeple- 
ichasing man tliroughout his 
adult life. 

He records it ail. Successes 
■and failures ; the moments of 
excitement, humour, and traigedy 
that every dndividual experi- 
ences. 

I rang Mr. Drage a't his home 
this week and aisked him why he 
decided to write the book. 

" Well, I was in hospital and 
did it to pass the time," he said. 
" It took me about six weeks. 

"Then I left the matter with 
my nephew, Major Gerald Glover, 
of Pytchley. He did everything 
else. I only wrote the 'book." 

" I only wrote the book " . . . - 
there we go in that matter-of- 
fact manner again. 

Two sayings spring to mind : 
'* You're never too old . . . . " aind 
, . . . " There's One good book in 
everybody." 

Both certainly apply in the case 
of Bert Drage.